Should elected officials and municipal employees live where they serve?

Dave Killion — July 18, 2011

Probably don't live in the municipality in which they work

This question is being debated over at the Vibrant Victoria forum, where more people seem concerned about the elected officials than the municipal employees –

As we (g)et close to elections, I thought I would opening(sic) a debate on if municipal staff, especially council and mayor should be required to live in the cities that the(sic) serve.

So what do you think? Should a Victoria city council member be living in say Oak Bay? Vice versa?

Do you think that decisions about a city should be made by someone not living in that city?

What about other services, like polic(e) and fire?. Should they be required to live and be a part of the cities that the(y) serve?”

As far as politicians are concerned, the answer is clear for libertarians – you have a right to choose your own leader, and no one has a right to interfere with that choice. That aside, some commenters make good arguments for electing residents.

The residency of ¬†employees is a bigger concern to me. It’s impossible for the federal government to avoid hiring from its voter pool, and nearly impossible for provincial governments, too, but municipal governments have a much easier time avoiding hiring people to whom they must answer on election day. If elected officials could negotiate with employees who can’t vote them out of office, they would have a much easier time keeping wages and benefits under control. I think it would be wise to require that non-elected local government employees reside outside of the municipalities in which they are employed, but I’ve never heard of a place where this is the case.


G says

Dave, although you correctly state people have the right to choose their own leader, it is important to include that no one has the right to impose a leader on someone else.

— July 19, 2011

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